How 2013 brought about a change in music

By Elena Lopez

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Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

In 2013, many famous recording artists decided to flip the script. While some artists took to wearing latex bikinis and twerking in front of the world, others revisited their music and offered something completely new and enthralling to their fans.

Of all the albums in 2013, one of the most surprising was Chicago native Chance the Rapper’s “Acid Rap” mixtape. His music is filled with warm melodies paired with a distinct tone and unexpectedly sweet serenades. The mixtape was enough to land him a tour as well as a slot at Coachella.

Last year pop diva Lady Gaga introduced her ‘monsters’ to “ARTPOP.” Living effortlessly up to its name, “ARTPOP” is full of hits inspired by anything from disco to R&B. While critics were dismissive, the public opened their arms to her and allowed Gaga to change the face of pop yet again.

Arcade Fire managed to stay relevant with their fourth album, “Reflektor.” “Reflektor” demonstrated the band’s ability to morph musically and still maintain a broad audience. They became wittier while maintaining their wide palette of sounds. Arcade Fire remains one of the few rock bands of the past decade with the ability to stay in the forefront of their genre.

A more somber but defining moment of music in 2013 was the death of Lou Reed at the age of 71. A rock pioneer most famous for his work as the lead singer of The Velvet Underground, his influence is felt in the music of countless artists, who in Reed had a great mentor and example.

Another surprising artist in 2013 was Miley Cyrus. She brought the term “twerking” into mainstream consciousness with her performance with Robin Thicke at MTV’s Video Music Awards.  With all the subsequent hype and media buzzing around Cyrus, many forgot that the girl can actually sing. “Bangerz” became her fifth number one album.  A huge creative jump, on “Bangerz” Cyrus really came into her own as a serious artist. Mixing touching ballads with irresistible party anthems, “Bangerz” cemented Cyrus as a superstar in her own right.

Drake became a real competitor in the rap game in 2013 with the release of “Nothing Was the Same.” With more crooning on the album than most hip-hop fans might be used to, Drake introduced a softer and more complex side of his music. Even Kanye West declared him a “rap god” on his Yeezus tour, cementing Drake as a rap heavyweight on par with giants such as West and Jay-Z.

2013 also introduced fresh-faced New Zealand pop singer Lorde. Her single “Royals” topped American charts for nine weeks, and immediately established the 17 year-old as a pop icon. The maturity and sophistication of her music has found a massive audience. Her debut album “Pure Heroine” grabbed four Grammy nominations, leaving no doubt as to her artistic impact.

One of the year’s defining artists was the always enigmatic Kanye West. “Yeezus” took on the world of pop in a way no other album did. “Yeezus” was his most abrasive and provocative record yet. West’s tour was an exercise in magnificent performance art. Songs like “New Slaves” and “Black Skinhead” brought an uncompromising political and artistic sentiment into the world of pop.

At the tail end of 2013, Beyoncé shocked the world and released a self-titled album in the middle of the night on Dec. 13. Available only on iTunes for weeks, she shot to the top of the charts with her most ambitious and personal record to date. Despite a world tour, performing at the Super Bowl, singing at the presidential inauguration, and being the face of Pepsi and H&M, she managed to keep the “visual album” a complete secret. Beyoncé reached a new level of success in 2013, establishing herself as pop music’s queen.

Elena Lopez can be reached [email protected].